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Verstappen prevails in wild Australian GP qualifying as resurgent Mercedes deliver

Verstappen prevails in wild Australian GP qualifying as resurgent Mercedes deliver

Verstappen prevails in wild Australian GP qualifying as resurgent Mercedes deliver

Verstappen prevails in wild Australian GP qualifying as resurgent Mercedes deliver

Max Verstappen overcame a wild qualifying session to secure pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.

The two-time world champion had looked in danger in Q3 when complaining about downshifting issues and times bunching, but eventually set a one minute, 16.732secs to finish 0.236s ahead of George Russell.

The Mercedes was resurgent, with Lewis Hamilton qualifying third ahead of Fernando Alonso in a session dominated by a chess game surrounding tyre warm-up.

Perez FP3 issues haunt qualifying effort

Half of the field rushed to the track in Q1 in the anticipation of rain with the probability of a shower set at 90 per cent for the session.

The bigger hitters of the grid spent the first five minutes in the pits but Sergio Perez's crash at turn three - a continuation of his issues in final practice beforehand - triggered a red flag period.

With the soft Pirelli tyres hanging on for multiple laps and even improving lap after lap, drivers stayed on track after the red flag with times continuously improving.

With the rain staying away for the first 18 minutes it all came down to who had kept enough tyre life for a final attack at the end of the session.

Unfortunately for the Australian fans, Melbourne native Oscar Piastri failed to advance, missing out by just 0.046s to Yuki Tsunoda.

Zhou Guanyu and Logan Sargeant, who had spun on his first set of tyres, were also within a tenth of Tsunoda's advancement time, whilst Valtteri Bottas struggled in the second Alfa Romeo and will line up on the final row of the grid alongside Perez.

McLaren pain continues

With the rain failing to arrive as expected, Lando Norris couldn't improve McLaren's fortunes in Q2, with an off at turn three compromising his efforts to reach the top 10.

Instead, the British driver will line up 13th on the grid having finished over three-tenths slower than Williams' Alex Albon.

Esteban Ocon, left in anguish by traffic in the final sector, only narrowly missed out on Q3 by 0.007s and will start the race 11th, alongside AlphaTauri's Tsunoda.

Norris will be joined by Haas' Kevin Magnussen on row seven, whilst Nyck de Vries was unable to improve on 15th in the second AlphaTauri.

Verstappen comes up trumps

With the heavily forecasted rain predicted by teams to hit within the final five minutes of Q3, nine of the 10 drivers hit the track straight away in the fight for pole.

Verstappen and Nico Hulkenberg were the only two drivers to attempt a flying lap after just one warm-up lap, with both struggling for grip throughout their laps.

Despite complaining of a downshifting issue ahead of his final run, however, Verstappen found half a second on his previous best effort to comfortably secure his second pole of the season.

Russell put smiles on faces at Mercedes with a stunning final effort to outqualify team-mate Hamilton for the third successive race.

But the seven-time champion will be unconcerned with performance finally being shown by the W14 around the Albert Park circuit.

Fernando Alonso again put Aston Martin ahead of Ferrari to qualify fourth ahead of compatriot Carlos Sainz.

Lance Stroll beat Charles Leclerc to sixth, whilst Albon was the unsung hero of the qualifying hour - setting a purple middle sector to finish eighth.

Pierre Gasly ended the day ninth fastest ahead of Hulkenberg.

Australian Grand Prix qualifying results

1. Max Verstappen [Red Bull] - 1:16.732

2. George Russell [Mercedes] - +0.236secs

3. Lewis Hamilton [Mercedes] - +0.372s

4. Fernando Alonso [Aston Martin] - +0.407s

5. Carlos Sainz [Ferrari] - +0.538s

6. Lance Stroll [Aston Martin] - +0.576s

7. Charles Leclerc [Ferrari] - +0.637s

8. Alex Albon [Williams] - +0.877s

9. Pierre Gasly [Alpine] - +0.943s

10. Nico Hulkenberg [Haas] - +1.003s

Eliminated in Q2

11. Esteban Ocon [Alpine] - 1:17.768 - +0.007s to Q3

12. Yuki Tsunoda [AlphaTauri] - +0.338s

13. Lando Norris [McLaren] - +0.358s

14. Kevin Magnussen [Haas] - +0.368s

15. Nyck de Vries [AlphaTauri] - +0.574s

Eliminated in Q1

16. Oscar Piastri [McLaren] - 1:18.517 - +0.046s to Q2

17. Zhou Guanyu [Alfa Romeo] - +0.069s

18. Logan Sargeant [Williams] - +0.086s

19. Valtteri Bottas [Alfa Romeo] - 0.243s

20. Sergio Perez [Red Bull] - No time

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